West Nile virus found in Barry, Kzoo county birds

Dr. Grasso Ebako, extension and diagnostic poultry veterinarian at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, wears protective gear as he prepares a dead blue jay for a necropsy Thursday, Aug. 8, 2002, in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Two birds recovered from West Michigan are among the first confirmed carriers of West Nile virus in Michigan this year.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said a dead turkey found in Barry County and a dead crow found in Kalamazoo County this month tested positive for West Nile virus. A second dead crow in Saginaw County also had the virus, according to Michigan State University.

Birds are natural carriers of West Nile virus. Most birds don’t show symptoms of infection, but some species are more sensitive to the virus and are more likely to become sick and die from it. Those species include crows, blue jays and ravens.

Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus when they bite an infected bird, then transmit the virus onto humans by bite. That’s why state health officials are urging residents over six months of age to wear repellent when they go outside.

MDHHS says adults age 50 years or old are at highest risk for severe illness caused by West Nile virus. Symptoms include a high fever, confusion, muscle weakness and a severe headache. The virus can also lead to more serious complications including neurological illnesses like meningitis and encephalitis.

West Nile virus led to three deaths and 43 serious illnesses in Michigan last year, according to MDHHS.

State health officials are urging residents to protect themselves from West Nile virus by taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites, including:

  • Using repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 according to their labels. Some lemon oil, eucalyptus oil and para-menthan-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.
  • Drain any standing water; change bird bath water frequently.
  • Replace any window and door screens that have holes or are not fitted properly.

Anyone who finds sick or dead crows, blue jays, blackbirds, owls or hawks or any other bird is encouraged to visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ website to report it.

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Online: 

State of Michigan on West Nile